Divergent

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Eric Character Analysis

A young government official in Dauntless, and the rival of Tobias. Eric is a cruel, sadistic man, who believes that the ideal Dauntless soldier is selfish, ruthless, and indifferent to other people’s suffering. Although Eric was ranked below Tobias during their training months, Eric was offered a top government job because Tobias turned it down first. Eric continues to resent Tobias for outperforming him in the rankings years before, and after he and Max stage a coup of the city, he reveals that he still considers Tobias his hated rival.

Eric Quotes in Divergent

The Divergent quotes below are all either spoken by Eric or refer to Eric . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Katherine Tegen Books edition of Divergent published in 2011.
Chapter 9 Quotes

“It ends when one of you is unable to continue,” says Eric.
“According to Dauntless rules,” Four says, “one of you could also concede.” Eric narrows his eyes at Four.
“According to the old rules,” he says. “In the new rules, no one concedes.”
“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others,” Four replies.

“A brave man never surrenders,” Eric says, and Four and Eric stare at each other for a few seconds.

I feel like I am looking at two different kinds of Dauntless—the honorable kind, and the ruthless kind. But even I know that in this room, it’s Eric, the youngest leader of the Dauntless, who has the authority.

Related Characters: Beatrice Prior / Tris (speaker), Tobias / Four (speaker), Eric (speaker)
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

In this moment, Eric and Four--two of the important teachers at the Dauntless compound--organize a ruthless match between two new recruits, Will and Al. Although Four wants the fight to end quickly and honorably, Eric takes a different approach: he wants the fight to be as long and bloody as possible.

Eric and Four's exchange reflects the two different sub-factions within the Faction of Dauntless. Eric thinks of combat as a bloody, sadistic sport, designed to prove one's strength and superiority. Four thinks of combat as a more complicated undertaking, designed to confirm one's inner strength, not just his or her ability to punch, kick, or shoot. In short, Eric thinks that Dauntless means blood; Four thinks it means honor.

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Chapter 13 Quotes

“Catch on? Catch on to what? That you wanted to prove to Eric how tough you are? That you’re sadistic, just like he is?”
“I am not sadistic.” He doesn’t yell. I wish he would yell. It would scare me less. He leans his face close to mine, which reminds me of lying inches away from the attack dog’s fangs in the aptitude test, and says, “If I wanted to hurt you, don’t you think I would have already?”

Related Characters: Beatrice Prior / Tris (speaker), Tobias / Four (speaker), Eric
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

Eric has ordered Four to throw knives at Beatrice; Four reluctantly does so, eventually nicking Beatrice's ear on purpose. Afterwards, Beatrice angrily confronts Four about his behavior: she thought that they were friends. Four replies that he's trying to help Beatrice.

While Four doesn't explain exactly why he's "helping" Beatrice, we can infer the truth. Four is worried that he's making Beatrice look like a teacher's pet. By wounding Beatrice--albeit in the mildest possible way--he's making Beatrice look like an underdog, helping her earn the respect of her peers. Furthermore, by wounding Beatrice in front of Eric, Four is trying to protect Beatrice from Eric's sadism. In short, Four is always thinking ahead: a clever strategist, he hurts Beatrice a little in the short term to strengthen her in the long term.

Chapter 18 Quotes

“What changed?”
“The leadership,” he says. “The person who controls training sets the standard of Dauntless behavior. Six years ago Max and the other leaders changed the training methods to make them more competitive and more brutal, said it was supposed to test people’s strength. And that changed the priorities of Dauntless as a whole. Bet you can’t guess who the leaders’ new protégé is.”
The answer is obvious: Eric. They trained him to be vicious, and now he will train the rest of us to be vicious too.

Related Characters: Beatrice Prior / Tris (speaker), Tobias / Four (speaker), Eric
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Four describes the history of the Dauntless community. There's been a massive shift in Dauntless ideology in recent years. Previously, the Dauntless leaders believed in a strict code of honor and respect: victors owed respect and support to the people they defeated. Now, the old Dauntless "code" has disappeared. Thanks to Max and Eric's leadership, Dauntless soldiers are encouraged to glory in victory, gloating at their opponents' pain and suffering. By controlling the recruitment process, Eric is ensuring that the next generation of Dauntless warriors will be just as brutal and sadistic as he is.

Four's explanation helps us understand why he chose to become an educator instead of a government administrator. Four is smart and talented enough to work for the government, but he wants to make sure that Eric doesn't transmit have sole control over the new Dauntless soldiers. In order to restore the old Dauntless code of respect, Four chooses to work one-on-one with recruits, teaching them how to win, but also how to be honorable.

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Eric Character Timeline in Divergent

The timeline below shows where the character Eric appears in Divergent. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
...Four to identify a young man who’s walking between the tables. Four explains that he’s Eric, a young Dauntless leader. Eric approaches Tris and notices her gray Abnegation clothing. He smirks... (full context)
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
After dinner, Eric leads the Dauntless transfer recruits to their sleeping quarters. He explains that they’ll be training... (full context)
Chapter 9
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...Tris confesses to Christina that she’s uncomfortable hurting people. Will and Al continue fighting, and Eric yells at them not to slow down. Four, who’s also monitoring the fight, argues with... (full context)
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
Eric, annoyed that Christina has conceded so early, drags Christina out of the room and orders... (full context)
Chapter 11
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
...should have worked in the government, he mutters. Tris remembers the conversation she overheard between Eric and Four on her first day. She also thinks about how she’s probably ranked last... (full context)
Chapter 12
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Late at night, Eric and other Dauntless people walk into the dormitories with flashlights and order everyone to run... (full context)
Chapter 13
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
The next morning, Tris prepares for target practice. Eric announces that today is the last day of stage one: afterwards, the initiates will move... (full context)
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
...minutes, all the trainees have learned to throw their knives, with the exception of Al. Eric orders Al to retrieve his knife from behind the target—while the other recruits continue throwing... (full context)
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Eric tells the other recruits that Tris is “daring,” and leaves. Tris angrily confronts Four and... (full context)
Chapter 15
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
It’s the morning of Visiting Day. Eric walks into the dormitories and tells the recruits that it’s best not to seem too... (full context)
Chapter 18
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
...recruits has changed lately. It’s become more rigorous and sadistic, thanks to the influence of Eric, the protégé of the Dauntless leader. Tris tells Four that, if he’d accepted a government... (full context)
Chapter 21
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...late in the day—he orders everyone back to their dormitories, and promises not to tell Eric about their indiscretion. Tris wonders to herself if Four has read the Dauntless manifesto, which... (full context)
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
...to be Dauntless. Late at night, she gets up to drink some water and overhears Eric talking to a woman she doesn’t know. The woman reminds Eric that his priority is... (full context)
Chapter 24
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
The funeral begins, with Eric presiding. Eric explains that Al’s suicide was an act of bravery, for which he should... (full context)
Chapter 28
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...back to the Dauntless headquarters in a car. When she returns to Dauntless, she finds Eric waiting for her. Eric, who recognizes the car as Erudite, accuses Tris of betraying Dauntless,... (full context)
Chapter 29
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
At the ceremony, Tris and her peers prepare to go through their final challenge. Eric tells everyone that Tris will be going last, since she fell to the bottom of... (full context)
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
It’s Tris’s turn to go through the challenge. Eric injects her with an orange liquid that’ll make her hallucinate, and asks her if she’s... (full context)
Chapter 31
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Tris finds herself sitting in an empty room, surrounded by Eric, Tobias, and a man whom Tris recognizes as Max (the leader of the Dauntless). Eric... (full context)
Chapter 32
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
The recruits then hear a microphone: Eric is ready to make an announcement. He explains that the top ten initiates will choose... (full context)
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
As she kisses Tobias, Tris realizes something: Eric and Max are working with the Erudite to develop serums that can control people and... (full context)
Chapter 33
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Competition, Groups, and Rivalries Theme Icon
Tris sees Eric approaching Tobias. Eric leers at Tobias and whispers, “No one’s going to remember that I... (full context)
Chapter 35
Identity, Choice, and Divergence Theme Icon
Strength, Selfishness, and Selflessness Theme Icon
Fear, Bravery, and Maturity Theme Icon
...she doesn’t think of very often. As she contemplates God, Tris is glad she shot Eric in the foot instead of the head. (full context)